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Brilliant Barbra
drednm22 June 2005
Barbra Streisand made one the biggest debuts in the history of films playing Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. She also won an Oscar as best actress of 1967 for her efforts. Although this musical bogs down a bit in the second half, Streisand keeps the viewer glued to the screen with her brilliant portrayal of this great star. Terrific musical numbers come one after another, and Streisand shifts gears effortlessly between comic gems like "I'm the Greatest Star" and "The Roller Skate Rag" and signature tunes like "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade." Her closing rendition of "My Man" is very effective (and was copied by Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues). Big and bright and splashy, Funny Girl is one of the last great, old-style musicals produced in Hollywood. Omar Sharif, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Kay Medford, Mae Questel, Frank Faylen, and Lee Allen co-star. Meford won a supporting Oscar nomination as the mother. Pidgeon should have been nominated for his role as Flo Ziegfeld. And I think Questel is a scream as the local yenta. But the center of this film is Streisand. Every number is a gem, and she looks great. There may be better musicals, but you'd be hard pressed to name a better performance in a musical than Barbra Streisand playing Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.

Others in the cast include Gertrude Flynn and Penny Santon as the card players, Tommy Rall as the prince in the ballet sequence, Mittie Lawrence as the maid, Gerald Mohr as the gangster, Inga Neilsen and Bettina Brenna as show girls, and Elaine Joyce in the roller skating number.
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"When a person's a stranger...they should act a little strange."
moonspinner5523 September 2001
Tour-de-force for Barbra Streisand, reprising her Broadway triumph and taking over the screen as 1930s Ziegfeld singer/comedienne Fanny Brice. Streisand's incredible self-assurance and clowning poise was enough to win her the Best Actress Oscar AND tick off most of Hollywood (few in the business were prepared for someone like Streisand in 1968, except maybe those familiar with her TV work, but the results here show she didn't care what anyone thought of her). The sets look phony, the script is contrived, and Omar Sharif is somewhat miscast as husband Nick Arnstein (Sharif is wonderful in the early stages, but his wet, red eyes and mincing baby-talk grow incredibly weary); however most of the song numbers are fabulous, and Barbra is at her best when delivering a high-powered number. She's tough and unyielding even while doing a comedic bit, but during an emotional song she lets her guard drop a little (not enough to become truly vulnerable, just enough to let us share her pain). The film doesn't exhaust one the way some musical extravaganzas can; the camera-work is uneven and some sequences are overlit, but it has lots of spirit and dazzle. Most importantly, it's a film that remembers it is about a woman and a man, and never allows the show-biz glitter to suffocate the characters. *** from ****
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A Funny Girl Happened on the Way to the Follies.
gbrumburgh21 February 2001
There are not enough superlatives in the world to bestow on Barbra Streisand for her rags-to-riches portrayal of 20s Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice. To say she gives the single most triumphant musical performance ever showcased on the silver screen could be close. I am constantly bowled over with each viewing at how the 26-year-old Brooklyn novice ever pulled off this incredible stunt. Cinderella playing Cinderella. Even the finicky Hollywood powers-that-be, who NEVER use untried screen talent for such a weighty role (Julie Andrews and "My Fair Lady" come to mind), knew that nobody but Barbra could inhabit this part. She won the Oscar, naturally, and it was befitting that the newcomer should share this honor with perhaps the greatest screen legend ever, Katharine Hepburn.

Barbra's Fanny Brice first conquered Broadway where she lost the Tony award to another irrepressible talent, Carol Channing, for "Hello Dolly!" She got her revenge of sorts years later when she won the coveted screen role of Dolly due strictly to her auspicious debut in "Funny Girl." Transferred to celluloid, the movie loosens its bustles quite a bit and grants more breathing room for Barbra to expand her natural comic and dramatic talents both keenly and intimately amid the elaborate sets and costumes.

The timing of this film couldn't have been better for Streisand. The late 60s ushered in a new legion of stars. The rash of talent coming to the forefront purposely lacked the super-model good looks and incredibly-sculpted physiques of their predecessors. Audiences now clamored for realism...human imperfection. What less attractive guys like Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino did for the men, Barbra did for the distaff side. She dragged out her own Cinderella version, making a virtue of her odd looks and gawky gait while laying out her two big trump cards -- she was a supreme song stylist and a gifted, self-deprecating cut-up.

Hardly ever off screen, Streisand totally immerses herself in the role of chorus clown-turned-Ziegfeld headliner, weaving a spell around each and every song she touches. From the stubbornly optimistic "I'm the Greatest Star" to the profoundly touching "My Man", the actress matures Brice into the glowing swan of her own dreams, while exposing a deep, personal vulnerability she never recaptured (or allowed) again on screen -- to her detriment.

Despite heavy critical lambasting, I still say exotically handsome Omar Sharif was indeed the consummate choice to play wanderlust husband and card shark Nicky Arnstein. Polished, prideful and totally in his element as the global-gambling playboy, one can believe the ungainly Fanny (or Streisand, for that matter) placing this glossy god on a pedestal. It may not appear to be much of a stretch (in real life, Sharif was a world-class bridge player), but he owns the part as much as delightful Kay Medford does as Brice's droll Jewish mama. Everyone else, however, is pretty expendable. It's been said that Anne Francis blamed Streisand for her supposedly top featured role being butchered. If it's true, she has an open-and-shut case. Francis was left with a nothing part.

Highly fictionalized and weak as biography, Streisand champions above the sometimes grandiose material from the moment she utters her first classic words: "Hello, gorgeous!" And so she is.
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The Greatest Star
MarkGriffin29 April 2006
Quite simply, Barbra Streisand's extraordinary, scintillating Oscar-winning debut in this classic is one of the finest musical-comedy performances ever committed to celluloid. Better than that...I'd venture to say that alongside Vivien Leigh's masterful performance in "Gone With The Wind," Barbra's portrayal of vaudeville icon Fanny Brice may be one of the most ambitious, captivating turns by a lead actress ever captured on film. Even Barbra-phobes would have to concede that the woman completely knocked herself out with "Funny Girl" and her renditions of "I'm The Greatest Star," "My Man," "People" and especially the pulse-jolting "Don't Rain On My Parade" rank right up there with the best of Judy Garland ("Over The Rainbow," "The Trolley Song" and "The Man That Got Away."). Because Streisand has been an exalted Hollywood legend for many decades, people tend to almost take her remarkable talents - both as an actress and as a singer - for granted now but this opulent musical, sparkling score and her thrilling, take-no-prisoners performance will endure as a testament to what pure show business, high octane theatricality and legitimate talent are all about. Sing Proud, Barbra!
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Bad Biography...Great Musical
Isaac585513 July 2006
Every time a film is made about a real-life figure, particularly a show business figure, people love to complain that the movie is not accurate regarding the facts of that person's life. If the truth be told, if movie biographies were strictly about the facts, no one would go to see them, because for the most part, the facts don't make for great entertainment and Fanny Brice is no exception. The 1968 musical FUNNY GIRL has been maligned for years because it is not a very accurate representation of the facts of Fanny Brice's life. If you want to learn about Fanny Brice's life, read a biography or go on the internet, but if you want to see an amazing movie musical spotlighting a legendary performer at the beginning of her amazing career, then you can't beat FUNNY GIRL, the 1968 musical based on the 1964 Broadway musical that made Barbra Streisand a star. Streisand tied with Katharine Hepburn for the Best Actress Oscar for this charismatic star turn as the young girl from Henry Street who becomes a big star of the Ziegfeld Follies and has a heartbreaking romance with a charming gambler named Nick Arnstein, played by Omar Sharif. Streisand is in practically every frame of this film and never makes you wish of the great performances in the history of cinema...whether she is defying Florenz Ziegfeld by refusing to appear in the finale or chasing an ocean liner to be with Nick, Streisand gives the one-woman performance of a lifetime here. Directed by Oscar-winner William Wyler, Streisand is lovingly photographed and effectively showcases the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill score, which includes classics like "People" and "Don't Rain On My Parade". Some changes have been made in the score from the stage musical but Streisand makes it all work and the finale "My Man" is just devastating. It's not an accurate biography of the vaudeville legend, but as a dazzling and entertaining movie musical, it's hard to top this one.
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The Greatest Star?...
TJBNYC3 September 2001
...Perhaps not. But for nearly 2 1/2 hours in "Funny Girl," Barbra Streisand at least makes a convincing case for herself.

Forget about the television airings you've seen. Throw away your old video cassette copy. Instead, see the restored, widescreen, road show version now in limited theatrical release. It is the ONLY way to truly appreciate the talents of Ms. Streisand and, more notably, the film's brilliant director, William Wyler.

Movies today no longer look like movies. The highest compliment one can pay "Funny Girl" is that it is a grand, glorious MOVIE in the truest sense. Wyler's brilliance is never more evident than in his glorious treatment of the "Don't Rain on My Parade" sequence, the stunning camerawork of "The Swan," and the incredibly effective set-up of the "My Man" finale.

Ms. Streisand doesn't really give a performance; she simply is Barbra. Every "Barbra-ism" that we have come to know, love and hate over the years is already crystallized at this point. Her brashness can be off-putting, but by the end of the movie, one is completely won over by the sheer enormity of her talent and presence. Yes, you can see the beginnings of the blind egomania that has marred her performances for the last 20-odd years (to be generous); but you cannot deny her brilliance, either. And to see her extraordinary face in full-screen close up is breathtaking. Kudos to the director, lighting director, and make-up artist for making Streisand appear so wonderful in this.

From the sweepingly orchestrated titles to the high-drama impact of the showstopping finale, this is Entertainment with a capital E. About 20 minutes could have been trimmed, and exactly why Omar Sharif was cast remains a mystery; but at the end of the picture, these quibbles are trivial. Did I laugh? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. Was I thrilled, excited, entertained? You betcha.
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Fanny's Marital Problems Aren't Minor
ngu4 December 2004
I've seen this film many times,and I've always thought it was one of Barbra Streisand's best films because it allowed her to use her strengths as a comedian, singer, and dramatic actor. It's clear that her presence dominates the movie; however, there are some excellent supporting players, including Kay Medford as Fanny Brice's mother Rose and Walter Pigeon as Florenz Ziegfeld, two very fine character actors. Rose is particularly likable because, unlike her daughter Fanny, she sees things as they are and not the way they should be. This applies to her comment about Nick Arnstein, the handsome gambler that Fanny marries, despite the fact that Rose perceives him to be a "sponge."

Fanny, as shown in this film, is also very likable not only because of her humor but for her generosity and thoughtfulness. Her ambition, of course, is to conquer the stage and she does so fairly quickly after making a great mess of a roller skate number at the local dance hall. Before long, Fanny is auditioning for Ziegfeld, the famous impressario and she wins him over with her talent and charm. Nick Arnstein, a man about town, always seems to be around Fanny when she triumphs on the stage and this time is no different. He buys her a beautiful bouquet of roses with a note, "Dear Star, I told you so." Very soon, Fanny and Nick become involved in a relationship which is often on and off until Fanny literally proposes to him. What follows is a heartbreaking story of a young woman whose desire to be loved for herself alone and her passion for a happy domestic life is thwarted by fate and some wrong choices.

After a montage of the first year of their marriage together, problems start affecting the Arnstein marriage. It is true that they are wealthy people; however, their problems aren't minor. Nick begins to lose heavily at the gaming table and everything he tries ends in failure. Fanny, on the other hand, continues to be successful on the stage and Nick starts to resent her. Suddenly, all of his gentlemanly charm and good manners disappear as if by magic; he's rude to Fanny, making her upset over things that a truly married couple would find a way to resolve. Indeed, he starts ignoring her deliberately and places his interests and needs above hers. After a while, the marriage collapses not because of Fanny's career but the way in which Nick looks at their relationship (we discover this near the end of the film.) He also conceals his financial problems from her, shutting Fanny out of his life as though she didn't exist.

All of this culminates in Nick's unfortunate involvement in a shady bond scheme which sends him to prison for two years. I would say that these problems are rather huge. I don't want to give more away because I feel others should have the opportunity to see the film and judge for themselves. But I have to say that the ending of the movie, is, in my opinion, one of the most heartfelt, dignified, and classiest moments ever put on film. And Barbra Streisand makes the most of it, touching us not only with her excellent performance of the song "My Man" but also by the way her Fanny carries herself, taking responsibility for her choice and showing that she will go on with her life, despite what's happened to her.
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A Lot Of Fanny, But All Barbra
bkoganbing2 March 2009
There are two important things to remember about Funny Girl when writing about it or discussing it. The first is Nicky Arnstein was still alive in 1964 when it debuted on Broadway, he died the following year. The second is that Ray Stark, the producer of Funny Girl on stage and on the screen is the son-in-law of Fanny Brice and Nicky Arnstein. So off the bat you know you're going to get a sanitized version.

Not that what they created was bad, how could it be for giving Barbra Streisand the role that made her a star on both stage and screen. Fanny Brice didn't do too bad out of it either, unlike a lot of her contemporaries she lives on through the artistry and interpretation of an icon in a future age.

But was Fanny's story ever given the literary dry process cleaning. Eliminated was her brief marriage to a first husband. Changed is the fact that she knew exactly who at what Arnstein was before she married him. Arnstein was a big time con artist who had no shame whatsoever in using his famous wife's name as a come on. Fanny herself though was never involved in any of his schemes. Arnstein did in fact take the fall and never squealed on any of the ones behind him who certainly were more than capable of reprisals against him and possibly against Fanny Brice.

Jule Styne and Bob Merrill wrote the original songs for the Broadway score and added one song, Funny Girl, for the film. But still the two standouts are Barbra Streisand's classic People and Don't Rain On My Parade, a couple of standards she's made almost exclusively her own. I don't think anyone else would attempt to sing them.

Added to the film are a couple of contemporary songs that Fanny Brice made famous that Barbra reinterpreted, the classic My Man, a song she sang before Nicky Arnstein went to the joint, but still is identified as her lament for her husband in stir. She also sang Second Hand Rose, a really great comedy song, emphasizing Brice's Jewish heritage. I wish a couple of others had gotten in there. I've got Brice recordings of Cooking Breakfast For The One I Love and I'm An Indian. That last one is especially hysterical, Brice did it one of the Ziegfeld Follies dressed as an indigenous person to this continent with the last line being "I'm a Yiddishe Squaw". It's great to hear and must have been fabulous to see.

Funny Girl got seven nominations which included Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Song, Best Musical Scoring, Best Editing, Best Cinematography and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Kay Medford, the only other player from Broadway besides Streisand to be in the film. But the only Oscar it got was a shared one when Barbra Streisand tied for Best Actress with Katharine Hepburn. One of the very few times someone got an Oscar for their very first big screen effort.

Of course two things helped Barbra greatly. One was a role she had made her own and the second was direction by William Wyler who has won Best Director three times in his career and directed more players to Academy Awards than any other. Barbra was his last. Oddly enough he wasn't nominated for Best Director.

Those who are interested in seeing Fanny Brice as she really was can see her in The Great Ziegfeld, The Ziegfeld Follies, and Everybody Sing all of which are out on DVD and/or VHS. I think Barbra channeled more of Fanny into Funny Girl than the sequel Funny Lady, but I'll let you the viewer be the judge of that.

You can't go wrong seeing and hearing Barbra Streisand do some of the best material ever written for her in both films.
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info-275228 September 2004
I've decided to purchase all of Omar Sharif's movies of the 60s and have myself an Omar Sharif film festival, thanks mainly to this movie! Sure, Barbra has always been my favorite songbird, and without a doubt, after seeing her here, hello--she deserved that Oscar, hands down. But "it" boy of the 1960s Omar Sharif was just achingly splendid as suave, cultured gentleman and card shark Nick Arnstein. No big stretch for the guy though, who was schooled in French and English schools, in addition to being a professional bridge player and, like Nick Arnstein, also owns racehorses (much later in life, he too almost lost his shirt to gambling). The chemistry between both stars work very well, and the seduction scene was quite funny (what nonchalance indeed, putting beds in restaurants) and and Mr. Sharif could have, should have pursued a singing career with that wonderful voice and patented accent! Rumors were rife that both were having an affair while filming. Barbra, you certainly were on a roll. Note to Omar: I am woman...and YOU'RE THE MAN!
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A memorable Musical Bio
olddiscs27 June 2001
Funny Girl, first released in 1968, remains, a very enjoyable and most entertaining musical biography. Beautifully performed by Streisand, its possibly her best film, (some will argue that The Way We Were is her best performance,as an actress)/ Its is magnificently staged and photographed. Streisand's talents are emphasized, and displayed to perfection. This role (Fanny Brice) will forever be associated with her!! IT is to her credit that @38 years have passed and they have not revived this great musical on Broadway ... A recent revival at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn , N.J. was very successful, and there's talk of taking that production to NY, and Leslie Kritzer (new,unknown) was excellent, but more like Merman,than Streisand!! William Wyler, an underrated film director, handles the production like the true master he was. This ranks with one of his great films (Ben Hur, Mrs. Miniver, The Little Foxes etc). The score ,by the immortal, Jule Styne is and remains beautiful & memorable. People, Dont Rain on My Parade, The Greatest Star are standards. My Man,(not by Styne) a true tour de force conclusion, is a beautiful addition to the film, though ,in the original production, The Music That Makes Me Dance, worked very well also.. Ths supporting cast is excellent, especially, Omar Shariff, looking absolutetly "gorgeous" as Nicky Arnstein, and plays this role well. Kay Medford, as Mama, is terrific, and provides, many memorable moments. A Film to see again and again, makes you laugh and cry, beautiful to look at, and Barbra, is and will always be a treasure!!I rate this film a 10!! and feel it should rank higher on memorable film lists. The Musical film is a lost genre today (Moulin Rouge,is not a true musical in the classic sense) Its too bad!!Young audiences should be exposed to musicals, and Funny Girl should be seen by all !
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Streisand is the greatest star
robb_77220 April 2006
The ultimate showcase for an actress, Barbra Streisand's highly publicized film debut in FUNNY GIRL met every single expectation and then some. The film was the highest-grossing film of 1968, and it's very easy to see why. The film has many great qualities: It's expertly directed by three-time Academy Award winner William Wyler (the finale of the "Don't Rain On My Parade" number is just as astonishing as the chariot race in Wyler's BEN HUR), the storyline is extremely compelling, Omar Sharif is an incredibly suave and charismatic leading man, the supporting players are perfectly cast (particularly Kay Medford, Lee Allen, and Walter Pigeon), and the song score (primarily by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill) is first-rate.

However, virtually everything that FUNNY GIRL has working for it would be worthless without Barbra Streisand's absolutely phenomenal performance. I honestly cannot think of enough good descriptive adjectives to do justice to her amazing performance in this film. She handles drama, comedy, music numbers, and tearjerking sentiment with equal aplomb, and she does it all better than any actress before or since. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had no choice but to honor her with the Oscar for Best Actress (in an extremely rare tie with academy favorite Katherine Hepburn; only the second tie in Oscar history to date), it is a performance that is nothing less than perfect.

Fittingly, one of FUNNY GIRL's major asset is it's phenomenal song score, which ranks among the all-time best of any play or film. The songs "I'm The Greatest Star," the Top 5 hit "People," "You Are Woman," "Sadie, Sadie," and especially "Don't Rain on My Parade" have justifiably become instantly recognizable standards, and the lovely "I'd Rather Be Blue Over You" and the stunning "My Man" (two of Fanny Brice's standard numbers) are worked into the score and prove to be highlights. This is quite an impressive list of 24 Karat-standards, and each number is vividly brought to life by Streisand's incomparable voice. It is truly acting when Streisand sings, and it is no surprise that she received the Academy Award for best actress for her work in this film.
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Great early Streisand...a reminder of how Babs was before egomania set in...
Doylenf21 May 2005
Mention the name BARBRA STREISAND to me today and I can only think of the insane utterances she's made about President Bush and all Republicans and the war in Iraq and her stance as a Democratic activist. But back in '68, I was justly impressed with her work under William Wyler's firm direction in FUNNY GIRL.

Watching it again, I haven't changed my opinion. Her Fanny Brice is indeed as perfectly in character as any musical star performer in memory and she carries the film to heights it never would have reached with a less gifted actress/singer. Sad to say, this can't be said of her later characterizations.

I don't understand criticism leveled at OMAR SHARIF as Nicky Arnstein. He looks magnificent, even if his singing voice leaves something to be desired, and plays his role extremely well. The chemistry between him and Streisand is evident, giving credence to the rumor of an affair while filming. Their duet in "You Are Woman, I Am Man" is deliciously staged in a fancy restaurant setting. In fact, all of the settings glow under the technicolor lights.

The score is riddled with fascinating show tunes, all of them sung and staged in the best manner possible. I particularly enjoyed the early Roller Skate Rag where Streisand's comic abilities are shown off to such advantage. The supporting players do outstanding jobs, including Kay Medford as her Jewish mother and Walter Pigeon as Flo Ziegfeld whose first encounter with Streisand is played for laughs while establishing the boundaries between them. Poor Anne Francis is given only limited screen time, but even she is worth watching in a role that must have suffered from too much editing. And Streisand's first big scene in a Ziegfeld musical is hilarious, hiding a pillow beneath her wedding gown to the extreme shock of Mr. Ziegfeld while the chorus girls can hardly stifle their laughter.

Highly recommended as a film musical that put Streisand on the map. She even looks beautiful in certain close-ups and camera angles, glowing under the artistry of cameramen skilled in photographing her imperfect face in the most flattering manner. As noted by others, the hairdos and styling do not always suggest the 1920s period, but in a musical where so much talent is on display, it hardly matters.

What is really striking is that Streisand is so confident and assured in every phase of her performance that it is hard to believe this was her first chore before the cameras. How much of this is due to the craftsmanship of William Wyler, I don't know. Her work here has to be ranked as one of the greatest acting "firsts" ever for a musical star performer. Streisand fully deserved the Oscar and should not have been in a tie with the much over awarded Katharine Hepburn's LION IN WINTER--as annoyingly false as any of Hepburn's later performances were bound to be.
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Funny Girl
CharmedGirl4723 May 2007
Wow. That best describes this movie. I don't tend to be a big fan of musicals but this one defies the pattern. I absolutely LOVE Barbra and almost anything she is in I love (excluding Hello, Dolly and its sad attempt to recapture the classic, yet horrid, musicals of the 1950's). This movie is just another time for Barbra to shine. The scenes are cute and the dance numbers will charm any audience, young or old, and provide a laughter and tears.

All the vocals are fantastic (specifically the last number, which Barbra insisted not be a voice-over.) This movie will satisfy the any lover of musicals and anyone who can appreciate quality acting.
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The Greatest Star
theowinthrop22 January 2006
Few have been able to wake up one day and discover they are famous overnight. Lord Byron was one - he discovered that his poetry opened the floodgates to fame that his title had never opened (Byron's family was prominent, but not of the aristocratic elite of the early 19th Century). For our purposes it was Barbara Streisand. She had worked hard in productions, most notably in I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE, where she sang "Miss Marblestein". Then she got the role of Fanny Brice, the great Ziegfeld Follies comedienne and star of the turn of the century, and she was a star on Broadway. She got the role in the movies, and won (in the only tie vote for "Best Actress" in Academy Award History) the "Best Actress" Oscar with the same role. I may add, although she has won another Oscar for "Love Soft as an Easy Chair" in her version of A STAR IS BORN, she has never been the recipient of another Oscar for an acting award since then, nor has she been nominated for her three directing jobs (YENTL, THE PRINCE OF TIDES, and THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES). Despite that she did become "the greatest star".

Streisand's insistence on doing her films her way has become legendary, and has built up a negative image legend of egomania gone amok. That her ideas have worked out to be successful more frequently than not is overlooked. It shouldn't be.

FUNNY GIRL was directed by William Wyler, and Wyler was notorious for doing his films his way until they were gotten right. He would do and redo a scene for the closest thing to perfection he could get. It is notable that he and Streisand did not end up at loggerheads on the set but worked pretty nicely together. It is as though they understood precisely what would work for the film in the same way.

Streisand is quite gifted in comedy as well as singing, so that her performance as Fanny is quite on target (such as the sudden dropping into "Yiddish" sch tick - like referring to her "schwans" instead of "swans" in the mock ballet in the Follies). She happens to be better looking than Fanny, but that is not unexpected in any movie. For that matter the handsome Omar Shariff is far better looking than Nicky Arnstein was. Shariff, by the way, is given sufficient time on screen to fill out his character - a good natured man driven by humiliation and desperation to commit fraud. Kay Medford (as Fanny's mother) and Walter Pigeon (as Flo Ziegfeld) give very effective performances in the film as well.

Not all the songs from the show are in the movie. "Cornet Man" is replaced by "I Want to be Blue". The song "Find Yourself A Man" is reduced to a dance tune at Mrs. Brice's saloon. A song sung by Fanny's mother and her friend Eddie, "Who Taught Her Everything She Knows" was dropped (one wonders if it was ever shot). And (as pointed out on this thread) "The Swan" replaced the World War I spoof "Rat-a-tat-tat" ("I'm Private Schwartz bin Rockavay!").

I only have one little comment to make. Nicky Arnstein was a professional gambler, and had worked closely with Arnold Rothstein on several jobs. Rothstein (renamed Peterman here) was responsible for the fraud that snared Nicky. But Nicky was fully aware of the fraud in the sale of the bonds. He was also aware that the powerful Rothstein was someone you did not threaten in a law court by blaming for a fraud. Rothstein would have retaliated - against Fanny and their daughter Frances. So it makes plenty of sense that Nicky took the blame for the fraud. Two years in prison versus potential physical danger to his loved ones - well I can fully appreciate why he made his choice in court.
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Sensational Oscar winning performance by Barbra Streisand in her first film role
clive-3828 December 2000
The young Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) desperately wants to be a success in show business and after a shaky start thinks she has made it when she lands a part in a big Ziegfeld show. Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon) and Fanny clash over various matters due to her strong personality but her talent shines through and she does eventually become a major star. She meets gambler Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif) and falls madly in love with him. Unfortunately his gambling habits get him in trouble with the police causing Fanny much sadness and anguish. However, she overcomes these problems to concentrate on her career and manages to realise her ambition to become a big Broadway star.

The film of "Funny Girl" was awaited with much anticipation after all the tremendous publicity given to Barbra Streisand following her stunning portrayal of Fanny Brice in the hit Broadway show. An "unauthorised" version of the Fanny Brice story had been filmed once before as "Rose of Washington Square" (1939) starring Alice Faye, Tyrone Power and Al Jolson but Fanny Brice was not happy about the film and sued 20th Century Fox for invasion of privacy.

"Funny Girl" received a total of eight Oscar nominations but only picked up the one (for Best Actress) which Streisand had to share with Katharine Hepburn for "The Lion in Winter". Personally, I thought this was a real shame as Hepburn had just picked up the Best Actress Award the previous year for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and had also won back in 1932 for "Morning Glory". In my opinion Streisand (in her first film) had worked tremendously hard on "Funny Girl" and given an excellent portrayal of Fanny Brice and her singing at the time was sensational. To have to share the award with Hepburn was bad luck for Streisand and must have taken away some of the pleasure of winning.

The film was directed by the legendary William Wyler and produced by Ray Stark (who was in fact Fanny Brice's son-in-law!). The film had a superior supporting cast including Kay Medford (recreating her Broadway role as Rose Brice), Anne Francis (Georgia James), Lee Allen (Eddie Ryan), Gerald Mohr (Branca), and with Frank Faylen as Keeney.

What a marvellous collection of songs this film contained: "People", "Second Hand Rose", "Don't Rain on My Parade", "My Man" and "I'm the Greatest Star" are just five gems from a really wonderful score.

Some favourite lines from the film:

Barbra Streisand (to her reflection in theatre mirror): "Hello gorgeous".

Lee Allen (to Streisand): "Are you sure you can rollerskate?". Streisand: "Can I rollerskate??".

Streisand: "I'm a Ziegfeld girl!".

Streisand (to Walter Pidgeon): "O.K. you win. You don't win fair but you win!".

"Funny Girl" was one of those rare occasions when the perfect part came along with the perfect star to play it. One of the last of the great Hollywood musicals. 10/10. Clive Roberts.
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Nobody needs this movie
rhoda-113 March 2008
Not a musical but an extended personal appearance by Barbra Streisand, grinding away at her aren't-I-cute routine so relentlessly that it seems only natural one of her comedy skits has her playing a four-year-old. Omar Sharif has no more charm--or activity--than a store dummy, with his prissy little features and his simpering that's supposed to represent understated class. There's no texture in this movie, no ambiance, no sense of period of even much of a sense that there are any other people around besides Fanny and Nick, and much laundered versions of both (they lived together for six years before getting married, while he was married to someone else, and before the bond robbery he had already done two years in Sing Sing for illegal wiretapping). The script is leaden and clumsy, without a single laugh. The tone matches Streisand's phony self-deprecation--the movie presents her to us as if she's a favourite grandchild, smugly saying, oh, look, isn't she marvelous.

While all this is tedious, what is really offensive is the hammering on the point that beauty is all, and that Fanny is quite right to crawl to a man who does her the big favour of sleeping with her and marrying her. Streisand may not win any Liz Taylor look-alike contest, but she's a good-looking, vivacious woman, so the constant put-downs are as phony as they are distasteful, especially given what a bum Nick is. Though he is greatly cleaned up(in real life, unlike the movie, he had no compunction about spending as much of his wife's money as he could get his hands on), he is still portrayed as a man who gambles for a living. He even complains in one scene that his wife's fame is interfering with his "work"! And yet he is someone we're supposed to sympathise with, and sympathise with Fanny for loving him. At a time when women were starting to take up real careers of their own? Please! I always thought People was a ridiculous song--you're lucky if you need people? Who doesn't need other people? It's not luck, it's necessity. This peculiar sentiment ties in with Fanny needing Nick so much that she overlooks his aversion to real work and his involvement with gangsters. In other words, the more needy you are, the better, because that means you'll ignore what is wrong with your man. It's an all too appropriate song for a movie that says a woman should be a doormat.
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a (hello) gorgeous debut for Barbra Streisand
lee_eisenberg8 November 2005
In one sense, "Funny Girl" is a little hokey, but it's really good nonetheless. In an Oscar-winning role, Barbra Streisand makes her film debut as Fanny Brice, who wanted dearly to be a Ziegfield Folly. Brice wasn't particularly good-looking, but she was sassy enough to have what it took (as certain scenes show). Accompanying her was gambler Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), whose habits eventually went too far for his own good.

Both Streisand and Sharif do a great job, as does director William Wyler. As someone who doesn't usually like musicals, I have to speak positively of this one. It's a real treat in every sense. This is what classics are all about.
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I Was Right The First Time
LeslieHell27 April 2004
Once upon a time I worshiped Barbra Streisand. There, I said it. That's over. For that matter, so is my love affair with Streisand. What happened to the heat and abandon she had in her first few albums, the ones with the fantastic versions of Harold Arlen ballads? Listening to her on the Broadway cast album of "Funny Girl" only makes us painfully aware of how much we lost when she decided to "act" the songs for us in the movie.

The night it opened in Cincinnati I sat with my best buddy vibrating with excitement (I can even tell you the color of the curtain that hung over the screen). By the end of the night I was actually depressed. Where were my favorite songs from the show? I was really looking forward to seeing her sing"Cornet Man" and it made me sick to see they replaced that great tune with something lame called "The Roller Skate Rag" that went "Thud!" (You're supposed to find it hysterically funny that Fanny messed up a line of third-rate singers and dancers by falling all over them because she couldn't skate.)

Because the star, herself, and the producers were sure no one wanted to see anyone but Barbra Streisand (and they had a point . . . sort of), they cut everyone else's numbers until the movie of "Funny Girl" was pretty much another Streisand TV special. After I saw the movie I wanted to do some cutting of my own, especially on the embarrassing "Swan Lake" number that replaced the satirical "Private Schwartz from Rockaway." I also wanted to cut everything but about 15 minutes of the second half of the film.

The Ziegfeld Follies numbers look like bad 1960's television, there is no chemistry in the love scenes between the wooden Omar Sharif and Streisand, Kay Medford is wasted, and whatever kept Fanny Brice growing as a legendary comedienne is dropped after the pleasantly silly "His Love Makes Me Beautiful." We get a quick flash of her in Baby Snooks drag when she takes on the reporters but that's all. (And, anyway, Fanny Brice didn't take up the Baby Snooks routine until years later.)

Instead of the rueful tune "Who Are You Now?" we got another mediocre replacement song, the "title" song "Funny Girl," which takes the focus of Fanny's heartbreak away from what she might be doing to her husband (out of love, albeit) and puts it on what all the suffering is doing to her. I suppose this should have told us in what direction Barbara Streisand was going like a runaway train.

Oh, there's no denying there are parts of the movie that show her off at her best, and that best can be very fine. Over forty years have gone by and she never again touched the bravado and power of her final number "My Man," even if that business about it being done in one take with her singing perfectly while crying is pure bull. For one thing, it is physiologically impossible. They took her vocal of "My Man" from off the "My Name is Barbra" album and dubbed it in with a new orchestral arrangement. The effect is great so it doesn't really matter except for the Star's dishonesty in perpetuating that story.

And when Streisand stops jumping all over the place and stands still to sing the last stanza of "I'm the Greatest Star" she's amazing, even if the post dubbing is terribly obvious.

I'm a sport, though. When "Funny Girl" was restored ten years ago I let a couple of friends talk me into seeing it again. I forgot it would mean nearly three hours of my life, but, as I said, I'm a sport. But, thirty-six years later, "Funny Girl" redux only made me painfully aware that I was right the first time.
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This is terrible
liber127 July 2004
I hate this movie. It's entirely a one-woman show, completely centered around Barbra Streisand. The relationship between Fanny Brice and Nicky Arnstein has no passion behind it at all. They truly made me simply not care at all. I like "From Justin to Kelly" more than this, and that's a really bad movie. And what's up with Barbra Streisand's hair? Long, short, poofy, not poofy, I mean what the heck? Also, what in the world kinda accent is Nicky supposed to have? I understand Omar Sharif is from Egypt, but he sure doesn't sound like it. In addition, Omar Sharif simply looks scary! I mean, I'd run away from him, not fall in love and have a kid with him. By the way what happened to their kid? Yeah, this really is a bad movie. I want this movie to end, it's just so annoying. Please, lower its rating so no one else will rent it. I'm just glad I got this on my birthday discount, so I didn't have to pay for it.
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Barbra Streisand Being Barbra Streisand
johnm_00111 October 2000
That "Funny Girl" was considered a hit, in 1968, was probably due more to the appeal of Omar Sharif, who was super-hot at the time, and fresh off his star turn in "Doctor Zhivago", than to the presence of Barbra Streisand (in her first film). There are a few good tunes, and Barbra even manages to be somewhat appealing in the first third of the film; but "Funny Girl", eventually looses its charm. When it does, we're left with mind-numbingly bad acting, and a plot development that not even Fanny Brice herself would care about. Striesand is so bad in the emotional moments of the film that, unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool fan (who just love Barbra being Barbra), you'll be hitting the off button on your remote. Streisand actually won an Academy Award for her horrid portrayal of Brice. She's never "funny" (she keeps doing a bad Jerry Lewis impersonation, and it's NOT FUNNY), and whether she is in love or pain, or happy or sad, you really can't tell the difference. She basically makes the same goofy face, for all emotions. Every over-the-top facial expression, hand gesture, and line delivery from Striesand, forces you to notice her. That what she's doing is totally inappropriate for what is happening within the context of the story, doesn't seem to matter to her. She wants your attention and she gets it, at any cost. The cost, however, is entertainment.

This is a loud, obnoxious, star-fest. None of the musical numbers are executed very well (see every other musical from the same time period for really good staging of musical numbers), and it has a "who cares?", paper-thin plot. It is recommended for true-blue (she can do no wrong) Streisand fans, only. Virtually every other 1960's musical is better. Not Recommended.
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Disappointing Epic
gavin694227 January 2016
Weird-faced Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) rises to stardom on the New York Vaudeville Stage and maintains a turbulent marriage with suave gambler Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif).

So maybe this is supposed to be one of the classics. I appreciate the attempt to tell the story of Fanny Brice... but geez, this is just bad. I am sorry that everyone in the world disagrees, but wow. First of all, way too long. I don't mind overtures and intermissions... but for this? And Streisand... just awful. Who thinks she's a good actress? Wow.

I feel bad rating this so low, but it just was not enjoyable... it was almost unbearable to watch. I would not recommend this to anyone, even my worst enemies.
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Funny???... You Think???
strong-122-4788853 April 2015
With the exception of Streisand's delivery of two songs (People & My Man), I think the rest of this movie, including Streisand's character, was utterly intolerable.

This movie didn't even come close to being an accurate account of Fanny Brice's life. Brice never had the vocal talents of Streisand. Brice was actually a really gifted comedienne. Streisand was not. Streisand was so painfully bad as a comedienne that it made me wince and cringe whenever she cracked another 'funny'.

About the only thing that I found 'funny' (actually hysterical is more like it) in this movie was Streisand's wigs. She never wore the same wig twice and each time she donned a new one it seemed like her head was getting longer and longer until by about two-thirds of way thru' this musical mess she started to remind me of Ridley Scott's "Alien" whenever she turned sideways in profile. I wonder if her inflated head was any indication of how inflated her ego was getting as film production continued. Could be.

My trashing of this movie would never be totally complete without a word, or two, about Omar Sharif and I'm sorry to say but words like 'Gorgeous!' (as Streisand referred to him in the movie) ain't the kind of words that come to mind. 'Blech!' is more like it.

Sharif really gave me the creeps, big time. I hated-I hated-I hated his big, droopy eyes. They always looked so watery and yucky. Apparently women in the 70's drooled like fiends over Omar and his watery eyes and they happily slept all night long with his picture tucked safely under their pillows. He was a big box-office draw back then, but his career was short-lived. Thank goodness for that.
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Started off great, but then got boring...
KatiesGhost5 July 2008
I rented this movie from my library along with "Hello, Dolly!" because I'm a huge Barbra Streisand fan. So I watched this movie first to see if it was gonna be great like people said.

Well, I was kind of wrong. The movie started off great, but then during the part where Nick returns, the movie went downhill at an almost "out of this world" speed. It got boring and dragged along.

One thing I did love about this movie were the songs. My favorites are People, Don't Rain on my Parade, and His Love Makes Me Beautiful, but that was it. The only thing I liked were the songs.

If you're a Streisand fan, this movie is definitely for you. But for some Streisand fans like me, it can get pretty boring.
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A Streisand Time Capsule
mpofarrell5 May 2002
The movie version of the Bob Merrill/ Jule Styne musical FUNNY GIRL is notable for only one reason : Barbra Streisand. For anyone fortunate enough to have seen the young singing actress in her signature role as comedienne Fanny Brice, the experience must have been electric. The nearest experience to that event is listening to the original cast album on Capitol/ Broadway Angel which conveys the immediacy of a live stage performance and the power of Streisand's characterization .The film is definitely a horse of a different color. The entire production is geared to showcasing Streisand ( no big surprise there! ) but she seems to be wandering through the movie as if she were starring in one of her early television specials - all supporting performances in the film are just that ; every one else's role seems to have been truncated to give more screen time to the star . William Wyler, one of Hollywood''s greatest directors, leaves no personal stamp on this picture, very odd indeed as he directed such classics as WUTHERING HEIGHTS and BEN HUR. The marvelous music score is pretty much intact, but two of the stage production's greatest songs are missing, THE MUSIC THAT MAKES ME DANCE and the haunting WHO ARE YOU NOW, supplanted by the pedestrian title song (ironically nominated for an Oscar!) and the standard that dramatically closes the movie, MY MAN . As with Rex Harrison's performance in the film of MY FAIR LADY, FUNNY GIRL preserves Streisand's performance for the ages, which makes this film a notable one but not a classic on the order of A STAR IS BORN.
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How I Feel About Funny Girl
ilovecolin12 August 2003
So many people have written in and bad mouthed this movie. I saw it in 1973 in school on film,in one of my classes in junior high. I fell so in love with Barbra then.(You know all we gay people do love her so) I have always loved her music,which has gotten me through all the rough times in my life-and although I am not a professional movie critic-(like alot of the comment people assume they are)- I will simply say that this movie was very good.I didnot find anything wrong with it. I have seen it over and over again. Barbra displays an innocence and star quality about her. She well deserved her Oscar. I will challenge anyone to this. I have all her music, I have all her movies, and she is wonderful.

Shame on anyone for ever saying anything bad about Barbra.
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